Last week was another successful Worldwide Photowalk. Having lead this walk in our area for the past four years, I have met some really nice folks. This year we decided to have our Photowalk in Boca Grande, Florida. Boca Grande is one of the most photogenic places that I have ever been to. Where else can you go and have lunch with BILLIONAIRES? This is also the place the Bush’s come to visit when they want to get away. Our Photowalk started at 5:00 p.m, and lasted until 8:30 p.m. This allowed the photographers to get some great sunset shots of the historic lighthouse that is at the end of the island. As in all good fashion, it wasn’t long until I started to see the Nikon and Canon camera straps appearing. Before I knew it, the Canon folks had gathered in a group and the Nikon folks did the same thing…and then it started, which is better, Nikon or Canon? This is always in good fun and there is nothing more satisfying watching photographers try to say the same thing only differently to make it sound better coming from them. Granted, I knew about half of the group so this was going to be interesting, as they all love to bust my balls about something. There were some folks who were straggling in, as we were getting ready to start. The folks who created the Photowalk like the leaders to take a group photo before everyone lets loose. As we made our way out to the beautiful white sand to take our photo, I heard one of my friends starting trouble. We got the group assembled and I found a sand dune to stand on to get some perspective. As I counted, one….two…TROUBLE! One of my friends decided that on the count of two that they were going to take my photo. So here I am looking through my viewfinder and all of the sudden I see all of these folks raising their cameras. I felt as if I was going to be on the lid of the Krispy Kreme doughnuts box. You know, the breakfast of champions! This was just the beginning of the fun that we had. I just told them if they didn’t behave that I was going to keep them there and we were all going to make sand castles. I don’t take myself to seriously and most of my friends share this theory so it’s never a dull moment.
After we had our group shot and all of the questions were answered, I set off to take some photos myself. I was looking around and it was still really harsh lighting conditions. All I could think of was this might make some great black and whites. As I’m standing at the point I looked to my left and I saw these big circular structures. I had noticed these in the past, but never took the time to see what they were all about. I was told that these were phosphate bins and they were called “dolphins”. Back in the early 1900’s trains would bring phosphate from the area and it would be loaded on to ships. The bins were used to store the material until the ships came and pick it up. Since these have been here for a hundred years, these have some great texture as the salt water has been eating the metal. They were rusted over so color wasn’t really going to help the image and with the harsh light, this screamed black and white to me.
While we were on our walk, it was a little windy to say the least. I would guess at least 25 mph sustained winds. After you made a footprint in the sand, it wasn’t long after Mother Nature did what she does best and filled them in with sand. One walker had sandals on and had nail polish on her toes. After the walk, the polish on her toes was sandblasted. One walker lost a tripod, it fell in the sand and the way it was blowing, it destroyed the locks in the support legs. She tried to get the sand out, but now its pretty much scrap. This is great excuse to buy a new one!
Right next to me was what was left of one of the old piers that they used to use to help off load the phosphate. I wanted to photograph it from an angle to have a repeating pattern and a leading line as well.
As we made our way back to the lighthouse I was noticing how the highlights and shadows were defining the shapes in the sand.
This is a popular spot for taking family photos. It’s not uncommon to come out and see a family posed up against a sand dune and a professional photographer creating a memory for the family. Looking at these Sea Oats as they are called, I saw this and it reminded me of a lone tree in a field.
For the next photo I thought a close up would be good. I played with different shutter speeds to see if a slower speed might have shown the motion of the wind that were experiencing. After a few test shots this is what I ended up with. It’s not really fast or too slow.
As I made my way to the restaurant that we were going to meet at, I wanted to shoot Banyan Road. The name is pretty self-explanatory. This is another popular spot to take wedding photos. By the time I got there I was loosing light. At the end of the road is the Gulf of Mexico. It was sunset and there was a beautiful orange glow coming from that area of the photo. After my first test shot it was quite apparent that the camera was going to need some help with this one. This was a high dynamic range shot, there was blaring orange light coming from part of the photo and the area in the trees was really dark. To combat this, I took a series of nine photos and blended them together as an exposure fusion. I find that tone mapping is to fake for my taste so I fuse all of the projects that I work on. It was blowing like crazy so I wasn’t even sure if any of these were going to be usable. The wind died down for a few seconds and I pushed the release to the floor, relative speaking. I could remove the stop sign and cars at the end of the street to make it more presentable.
Those of you who are regular readers of the blog know that I love my Nik tools. To make the black and white conversions, I used Nik’s Silver Efex Pro. This gives me a really punchy black and white right out of the gate without too much fussing. Other than the conversion, the photos that you see are how it was captured in the camera. The biggest thing here is not to blow the highlights on a shoot like this. I would rather shoot for the highlights and open the shadows in the computer or shoot a bracketed set and assemble in Photoshop.
It was a great event and I look forward to doing it again next year. I didn’t get to take too many photos as I was running all over the place trying to answer questions and make sure that everyone was together. The weather is starting to break here so we are in the comfortable 70’s with low humidity. I think I’ll go back and do a photowalk with a few of my friends so I’ll have more time. If you are ever in the area, be sure to stop by this remarkable place. You won’t regret it.
Until next time…
Keep Your Glass Clean